Lomo Smena 8M

The Lomo Smena 8M was born in the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. It’s an entry-level camera for 35 mm film, no frills and no electronic gadgets as in the cameras produced in Western countries at that time. Still you have complete control over aperture (4 to 16), exposure time (1/15 to 1/250) and focus (about 1m to infinity). Even flash sync at all speeds. Exposure time is controled indirectly by a scale of weather symbols from sunny to overcast to rainy.

The Smena features a coated 40mm glas lens labeld T-43 which is of decent optical quality. So you will get photos with nice contrast and sharpness out of this cheap plastic box. Unfortunately the 8M is no masterpiece in ergonomics. You could gain the impression the Soviet engineers did their best for the user to waste as much shots as possible. The release button is hard to press and takes a long way down until the shutter is released, so the probability for camera shake is quite high. Then there is film transport. From time to time you have to turn the transport wheel over and over again until the counter locks an the next frame. In the end you have moved the film 2 or 3 frames for just one count on the frame counter. But the worst is the shutter cocking lever. The lever will move up when you release the shutter. Problem is, your fingers will easily get in it’s way when you try to hold the camera firm to avoid shake when pressing the release button. When you realize it’s too late: you already blocked the lever getting a much longer exposure time than expected, or you shoot the ground or any random stuff because the lever was blocked and the shutter did not open until you removed your fingers. Another frame wasted.

So one could say you’ve got a camera with character here. Anyway, in the end what counts is the pictures you get. And when you do everything right, move yourself out of the cocking lever’s way but still manage to hold the camera firm, and remember to focus using the distance scale before you shoot, you will get quite nice shots out of this little box. Of course there is no double exposure protection as you can see in the last image of the series …

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